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Quiquern (Chapter Heading) -- Rudyard Kipling

       
(Poem #1685) Quiquern (Chapter Heading)
 The People of the Eastern Ice, they are melting like the snow --
 They beg for coffee and sugar; they go where the white men go.
 The People of the Western Ice, they learn to steal and fight;
 They sell their furs to the trading-post; they sell their souls to the white.
 The People of the Southern Ice, they trade with the whaler's crew;
 Their women have many ribbons, but their tents are torn and few.
 But the People of the Elder Ice, beyond the white man's ken --
 Their spears are made of the narwhal-horn, and they are the last of the Men!
-- Rudyard Kipling
Note: From the Second Jungle Book

Kipling's Jungle Books are famous, and deservedly so. Stories of Mowgli and
his friends have enthralled generations of children, and are usually what
people think of when they think of the books - but Kipling also included
several other stories in the two books, at least one of which (Rikki Tikki
Tavi) has achieved a fame rivalling the "main" stories, and several others
of which foreshadowed later masterpieces like "Puck of Pook's Hill" and
"Kim".

When rereading the books, one of the things that always stands out is the
sheer brilliance of the chapter headings. They work very well as stand-alone
poems (indeed, we've run several here on Minstrels), but to truly appreciate
Kipling's work, I'd strongly advise putting aside a couple of evenings and
reading the Jungle Books through at a stretch - the interplay of story and
verse is wonderfully immersive. (That said, I'll admit that Quiquern was one
of the rare instances where the poem was a lot more memorable than the
story.)

Incidentally, has anyone else done something similar, by way of chapter
headings? Several authors have embedded verse within their stories (Tolkien
is a notable example, as is Carroll), but right now I can't think of anyone
who's done it in quite the way Kipling has.

martin

Links:

The Jungle Books are freely available online; here's today's story:
  http://www.classicreader.com/read.php/sid.3/bookid.2742/sec.11/

All the chapter heading verses:
  http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/jungle_books.html

63 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

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Back in England, in September 1896, the Kiplings found themselves in Torquay on the coast of Devon, in a hillside home overlooking the sea. Although Kipling did not much care for his new house, whose design, he claimed, left its occupants feeling dispirited and gloomy, he managed to remain productive and socially active. Kipling was now a famous man, and in the previous two or three years, had increasingly been making political pronouncements in his writings.

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